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Quarter of Bee Network buses were late - and that's an improvement

Mayor Andy Burnham

One in four Bee Network buses were late last week — and that’s a big improvement on the old system.

Earlier this year, Andy Burnham announced plans to provide weekly updates on bus punctuality in the areas now being served by publicly controlled buses. The first Greater Manchester boroughs to get franchised buses in decades were Wigan, Bolton and parts of Salford last September, with Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, and north Manchester joining the fleet on Sunday (March 24).

As part of its weekly update, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) said 74.4 per cent of buses were on time from March 10-16 – i.e. arrived at a stop between one minute early and five minutes late – which the Mayor thought was "the best yet we have for punctuality". A week before, the figure was 72 per cent.

But the biggest increase can be seen in how services now shape up against the old system of private companies operating, where only 53.7 per cent were on time in the "same period before the Bee Network launched". Furthermore, private company services still operating in Greater Manchester were only punctual 59.3 percent of the time last week.

That’s the basis for Andy Burnham’s assertion that "the Bee Network in tranche one is better than what it replaced". But as tranche two comes in this weekend, concerns have been raised that some passengers may end up paying more under publicly controlled services than they did with a private firm.

One of those is David Hopes, who will see his £14.50 weekly Rochdale Road Corridor ticket offered by Go North West replaced by a weekly Bee Network ticket. That will cost £21.

Following the report from the Local Democracy Reporting Service last month, the Mayor has again sought to quell fears that commuters will be out-of-pocket.

He told a Combined Authority meeting on Friday (March 22): “Some operators have run products that are cheaper, but they are not strictly comparable. There are operator-only products that are priced differently.

“While there was some of that in the tranche one area, there’s more of that in the tranche two area. We will make sure there’s a compensation scheme being operated by TfGM so people can claim the difference.”

Mr Burnham said that the compensation scheme "will operate until the end of the year". “Then when tranche three goes live it will move to a flatter ticketing scheme and that will be the new world proper,” he added, effectively confirming January 5, 2025 as the closing date for the compensation scheme.

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